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High Sparrow

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All sinners are equal before the Gods.
~ High Sparrow's view on divine judgement

The High Sparrow (real name unknown as High Septons abandon their names) is a major character in A Song of Ice and Fire. In the TV show he's introduced in Season 5 of Game of Thrones. He is the current High Septon of the Seven Kingdoms as well as the leader of the Sparrows. He also commands the Faith Militant, the military arm of the Faith.

Despite coming off as harmless and compassionate at first, he reveals his true colors as a fanatical zealot as the season progresses, usurping Cersei Lannister as the main antagonist of the King's Landing storyline. High Sparrow serves as the tertiary antagonist of Season 5, and one of the two main antagonists of Season 6 (along with Ramsay Bolton). He is portrayed by Jonathan Pryce, who also portrays General Vavarin Delatombe and Elliot Carver.

This man is described to be truly devote to the Faith of the Seven and has an iron will, being immune to every temptation or weakness. Before the death of Lord Tywin Lannister, he lived all over the realm and walked upon villages that were too small to have their own septs and performed the traditional duties of a septon, such as naming newborn children, absolving sins and performing marriages. He starts behaving in a more fanatical way after he becomes the new High Septon and takes control of the capital (with also the unintentional help of Queen Cersei).

The High Sparrow's plans however don't stop in King's Landing. He wants to deal with the foreign faith of R'hllor the Lord of Light, and eradicate it from the realm. He claims that Stannis Baratheon has turned from the truth of the Faith of the Seven to worship a red demon, and his false faith has no place in the Seven Kingdoms.

Game of Thrones

After talking with her cousin Lancel and hearing about the Faith Militant and High Sparrow, Cersei pays him a visit. His church had already raided and destroyed the former brothel of Petyr Baelish, showing the power they had amassed in the area. She sees the kind old man feeding the poor, and notices the influence he has on the community. Instead of jailing him for what he did, she makes his group the religious authority of King's Landing. Seeking vengeance against house Tyrell, Cersei reveals that Loras is a homosexual and the Faith Militant arrests him. At his inquest, he denies being gay, and his sister Margaery claims this as well. The Faith bring in one of Loras' lovers, who says that he is indeed gay and that his sister walked in on them once. Because of this, the faith has both of them locked up (Margaery for lying under oath). Their grandmother Olenna confronts High Sparrow, and offers him various things in exchange for their freedom. High Sparrow Refuses, only caring about delivering what he views as justice. Olenna threatens that she will cease giving the capitol crops, and High Sparrow warns her that she is one of the few and not the many. Later, Cersei runs into him and the two discuss the upcoming trial for the Tyrell siblings. High Sparrow begins dropping hints that Cersei herself isn't innocent at all, and after Lancel appears (who Cersei had an incestuous affair with in season 1) she knows she is in trouble. The former queen cannot escape though, and is thrown into a cell by one of the faith militant. The High Sparrow having imprisoned both the queen and the king's mother, now had power over even the royal family. No one in King's Landing was safe any more from his crusade.

Trivia

  • High Sparrow shares some similarities to Melisandre. Both are priests willing to do extreme things to advance their religions. Both of them were given great power by royalty as well. The big difference is that Melisandre is in favor of sex and is not as pious. High Sparrow on the other hand gives all accused trials, and does not burn non believers alive.
  • High Sparrow also has multiple similarities to Baelor I Targaryen. Both are initially presented as being kind-hearted and benevolent individuals, but are later recess to be fanatical zealots who make many questionable decisions for their faith.
  • High Sparrow's actor looks very close to the current Pope, Francis. Both are the head of their respective religions as well. Whether or not this casting was intentional or a coincidence is unknown.
  • He is played by Jonathan Pryce who is also Elliot Carver.
  • While he is still quite misogynistic in the books, the Sparrow is in some ways less villainous. Unlike the usual corrupt Septons and nobility, the High Sparrow seems to genuinely want to help the poor, even selling much of the Faith's wealth to buy food for the poor.
  • In the books the Sparrow movement grew out of the suffering of the smallfolk in the war and the abuses of power by the nobility, such as the burning of the Riverlands and the Red Wedding, causing a group including the High Sparrow to come to King's Landing and gather support.
  • The High Septon is not appointed by Cersei in the books. During an election for the new High Septon, Septon Luceon, a son of Walder Frey, is almost elected but a crowd of Sparrows get into the Sept of Baelor with the High Sparrow and force the Septons to elect him High Septon.

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